In an age where issues of nationality and immigration are ever more at the forefront of public discourse, Italy is not an exception. The Italian Parliament is discussing a new draft law since January 24th, 2024, proposing changes that could affect those of Italian descent seeking to reclaim their heritage through citizenship. This article delves into the proposed legislation, with special emphasis on its impact on third-degree descendants and beyond.

For amendments to the law regarding Italian citizenship applications for former Italian citizens, please check the information here.

The legal text explained

The draft law introduces specific criteria that will require demonstrating a close connection to Italy. For the 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree descendants, this means proficiency in the Italian language at the B1 level. Those beyond the third degree will have an additional requirement: a one-year residency in Italy.

The language of the law:

“The right to Italian citizenship is recognized to individuals who demonstrate straight-line ascendancy up to the third degree of Italian citizens, born or resident in Italy. The applicant must satisfy the provisions of article 9.1 (of the Italian Nationality Act) for knowledge of the Italian language.

For citizenship claims beyond the third degree, continuous residency in Italy for at least one year is required.”

Source: Bill no. 752 presented to the Senate of the Italian Republic on 7 June 2023, Article 2

Family Degrees 101: Know Your Rank

Understanding your eligibility under this new draft law necessitates a detailed grasp of Italian kinship degrees. Here’s a breakdown:

Rank 0: Original Italian Ancestor (e.g., Mario)

Rank 1: Child of Original Ancestor (e.g., Luca, son of Mario)

Rank 2: Grandchild of Original Ancestor (e.g., Serena, daughter of Luca)

Rank 3: Great-Grandchild of Original Ancestor (e.g., Anna, daughter of Serena)

Rank 4: Great-Great-Grandchild of Original Ancestor (e.g., Silvia, daughter of Anna)

Rank 5: Great-Great-Great-Grandchild of Original Ancestor (e.g., Giovanni, son of Silvia)

With these rankings in mind, here is how the new draft law would apply:

Ranks 0-3: Eligible for citizenship by merely demonstrating Italian language proficiency at the B1 level.

Ranks 4 and beyond: Must not only prove language proficiency but also complete a year’s residency in Italy.

By having this clear understanding of kinship degrees, you can more precisely assess your position and the steps you need to take.

Language proficiency level

The B1 level signifies that an individual can grasp the essential ideas of clear, standard texts on familiar subjects related to work, academics, or leisure activities. Moreover, a B1-level speaker is equipped to handle most situations likely encountered during travel in regions where the language is spoken. This level is set by the European international standard called Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

Will This Bill Pass?

The draft law enjoys substantial backing, notably from the Fratelli d’Italia party currently in power. Given this landscape, the bill has a significant likelihood of becoming law. Yet, the journey from draft to law involves several stages, with opportunities for amendments by members of both the legislative chambers, the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. Consequently, the final version of the law could differ significantly from its original proposal, potentially introducing new restrictions, a grace period for current citizenship applicants, or it might not pass at all.

Should it be enacted, there will be potential flexibility for those who have already submitted their applications. In the legal context, those who have already submitted their application for citizenship by lineage may have avenues to argue your eligibility based on the law as it stood at the time of your birth. However, these considerations won’t apply to those who haven’t initiated their application process.

Your Next Steps

If you haven’t yet started your application process, now might be the moment to act. In such evolving legal landscapes, proactivity is not just an option; it’s a strategic move.

Dive into my free step-by-step guide to kickstart your application, optimized to mitigate the potential effects of the incoming legislation. Read it here